35 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
First of all, we are Cruise Noobs. Never cruised before,never thought we would like the experience. But we wanted to visit Alaska,and so we decided this would be the best way to celebrate our 28th anniversary. Our party consisted of 4 of ... Read More
First of all, we are Cruise Noobs. Never cruised before,never thought we would like the experience. But we wanted to visit Alaska,and so we decided this would be the best way to celebrate our 28th anniversary. Our party consisted of 4 of us, ,Mom,Dad, (40's) Young adult son 1,and Teen son 2. We shared an ocean view cabin,deck 1,#1008. I was a little concerned about the location when booking, but this was our best option in our budget category,so we chose it. It turned out to be a great location! So quiet,and peaceful. I spent some time that week reading my book while sitting and watching out that window. Being on deck 1 gave us a beautiful view of the water and the views out our window, I preferred the views from the lower decks to the upper decks anyway. The cabin itself was compact, but we didn't feel cramped,and had plenty of room for ourselves and our stuff onboard. The bathroom was small,but very practical,and we enjoyed everything about the setup of the room. I really liked that we were so close to the bow of the ship,with easy access to the main stage, so usually at night on our way back to the cabin,we'd stop in just to see what was happening on the mainstage,so convenient and fun! The cabin stewards were wonderful also. The ship itself seemed really big to us at first, but it was actually a nice compact size (as far as cruise ships go) for exploring around. I don't know how full our ship was, but I never felt crowded,and if one area was busy, it was easy to walk around a bit and find a place to ourselves practically. There are multiple lounges all over the ship on different decks,and they all have comfortable seating,and multiple views out the huge windows. This was a real plus,as Alaska can get cold and rainy, but no matter where we were,we always had wonderful views. I would seek out a ship just like this again for our next cruise, I think the size of the ship and amenities are just perfect. We enjoyed various shows throughout the week,America's Test Kitchen was great- Loved the BBC Alaska Live show, Live on Lincoln Stage classical was wonderful, and the BEST time on ship was the B.B. King Blues lounge. That band,those singers were FANTASTIC. Tabitha and Tim Timmons had golden voices,and the high energy shows they did multiple times nightly were the highlight of our trip! really great times hanging out in that lounge. The pools and hot tubs were nice,as was the sauna right next door. The food? Oh the food...... How to explain how wonderful,incredible the food experience is? We chose anytime dining,and it was great every night! Our deck 2 dining room always provided a great view of the water,and scenery,but wonderful servers,and the BEST food we've had in a long while! My sons have really big appetites,and certain nights they ordered and enjoyed 3-4 entrees apiece...... but it's not just the quantity of food here, it's really good food! The choices change nightly,and we had a delicious family dinner every night together. That said, let's talk about the Lido buffet. It took us a while to figure out the timing and rhythm of the offerings here,but once we discovered the breakfast,snack,lunch,snack,dinner,snack,late night timetables.....oh boy! The food had a big variety daily, and it was so much fun to be able to just stop in whenever to get a snack or a drink of tea or coffee. Everything is so clean,and sanitary. I like that most of the food stations don't allow guests to serve themselves,which goes a long way toward keeping things non-germy and clean for everyone. My sons LOVED the asian and sushi bar, they enjoyed so many different types of food here over our week. My personal favorite was the daily omelette bar, where a very skilled and quick server would make up a personalized omelette for me,and always with a big smile! We were on a pretty strict budget, and this meant we put together our own shore excursions. Yes,we could have seen more, but we really enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. In Juneau, we rented a car from the rental shack right on the pier. It was $60 for the day,which was our best budget option for 4 people. We drove to Mendenhall Glacier,and were amazed by the dozens of bald eagles we spotted along the roadway. At the glacier area, we just parked and walked in,with plans to hike and take in the scenery. It was really beautiful,we got luck with the weather,with an overcast sky, but no rain till late evening. Perfect for hiking. We walked out to Nugget Falls,walked around the edge of the lake (so many pictures to take!) Then headed out from the visitor center to hike East Glacier Trail. It was a lot steeper than we had imagined(it's not really noted on the map guides) but it was really,really beautiful in those woods! We all had a great time hiking around,and seeing so much beauty. The woods have a really cool moss that covers everything,it looks really fantastical. All told, we spent from about 1:30-6 p.m. at Mendenhall just walking and taking in the sights. In Sitka, we discovered our favorite port stop. The town itself is cute, but surrounded on all sides by gorgeous mountain scenery. We walked from the dock thru town, around the harbor. It was another beautiful day for walking. We saw so many eagles fishing there. We headed for the Historic Totem Park,and checked that out,then proceeded onward thru a pretty woods path to the Alaska Raptor Center. For $12 per person, it was a great way to view bald eagle rehabilitation,plus a lot of other native birds,like a variety of really cool owls. I like the passion of the workers for their animals. After this, we taxi'd out to the Fortress of the Bear. (about 5-6 miles away) This is NOT TO BE MISSED. For $10 per person, we spent at least two hours thoroughly enjoying the bears,the great viewing of their activities. They had 3 types of bears, plus again, dozens of bald eagles in the trees around them. Plus the hummingbirds at the feeder..... We LOVED this place! The people who work her are passionate about their animals. After this,we walked over to the nearby bus stop (just ask the workers,they'll tell you the hourly schedule) and paid $2 to head back into town. All in all,a great bargain of a day,and lots and lots of fun! In Ketchikan, we wandered the town a bit. My son wanted to shop in all the souvenir stores,and there were a LOT of them in this town. Anyway...... we also walked over to Creek Street,and Married Mans trail,and up to the Cape Fox Lodge. It was all nice, but left us wishing we had gotten out of the town a bit more to look around. We only stopped for a few hours here anyway. Glacier Bay was beautiful,and we took lots of great pics out on the bow,in the crazy wind and rain. This cruise was one of our best vacations ever! I really like how Holland America cruises,and I want to go again.My whole family agrees, it was great fun,and also relaxing. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
First was not going to write a review since ship is doing a transatlantic and then dry dock but after looking over some of the last reviews I thought they were unfair and totally misleading. This was our 9 cruise on five different lines ... Read More
First was not going to write a review since ship is doing a transatlantic and then dry dock but after looking over some of the last reviews I thought they were unfair and totally misleading. This was our 9 cruise on five different lines and cruises are a treat and we look forward to them. We are not professional cruisers who looked for minor bad things. Ship had some worn carpet spots nothing major no worse than on our last two trips with carnival and princess. Embrakation was quick arrived at 11:00 on the ship and dropped carry on by 11:30. Did not have a lot of wheel chairs or motorized chairs or at least they were not a problem. Had a large European population so we met many people from Germany, England and the Netherlands. Service was the best of our 9 cruises Hon and Fabian were great stewards (cabin 8019), Carson asst cruise director was great in trivia and bingo. Our servers Nicole in Pinnacle and in the Italian resturants could not be better. never had to wait for table in lido help kept them clean. (There were more than 1 toaster places). Had 2nd seating table 69 great service every nigh with great new table mates. We did trivia very night with a team made up of Londoners, Americans. Tied 3 times and won once, did bingo, and spent 4 nights in BB Kings blues club. ( great band but yes it was loud but there was 6 members in a small room. It was filled every night but last one. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Never having been on a cruise before We listened to many people rave about Holland America and selected them. We really enjoyed the trips off the ship and listening to the tour guides. The tour guides were very good but the bus rides ... Read More
Never having been on a cruise before We listened to many people rave about Holland America and selected them. We really enjoyed the trips off the ship and listening to the tour guides. The tour guides were very good but the bus rides are killers, no room for legs, even in 60 degree weather air conditioners need to run so windows did not fog! Our first night was in the Anchorage Hilton and that Hilton is not up to Hilton Standards! After Denali the over ten hour ride to Seward was terrible! The ship part was so so! When we got to our stateroom it needed vacuuming, sofa bed was so dirty I would not even put a suitcase on it, there were lumps in the floor under the carpet. We used the john, it over flowed and later that night, it would not flush (plumber came about 11:30 pm). Having floor to ceiling windows and a balcony was great for viewing. My favorite part of the ship was the Explorations Café and Crow's Nest on the top deck. We were set up for 5:30 pm dinner and changed it to open seating (that was great). We met quite a few different couples from, Canada, US and Australia. The fish dishes were excellent the other selections were not as good! The food was OK, but from the amount people were eating they must have thought it was great! Not being drinkers or gamblers meant about 1/3 of the ship was unnecessary for us. The ship is showing its age, worn carpets, shabby appearance in a lot of areas, but the bars, the shopping venues and the casino were well taken care of. They definitely want you to spend money while you're aboard. The crew were all very friendly and attentive, our cabin stewards were very friendly and unobtrusive. At the end of the cruise disembarking was not handled well, the group responsible showed up late, was not organized and seemed to be totally flustered! I am not sure we would ever take another cruise on Holland America the value in my opinion was not there! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
My wife and I arrived at the Vancouver Airport at 11am. Were met and welcomed by a HAL rep who arranged for a cab to the Pan Pacific. The Pan Pacific allowed us to check in immediately and our luggage was taken to our room. Nice ... Read More
My wife and I arrived at the Vancouver Airport at 11am. Were met and welcomed by a HAL rep who arranged for a cab to the Pan Pacific. The Pan Pacific allowed us to check in immediately and our luggage was taken to our room. Nice accommodations and we had the afternoon to explore Vancouver and Stanley Park. Enjoyed a dinner and drinks overlooking the Lions Gate Bridge and Bay. The next morning we headed to Victoria BC and two nights at the Empress Hotel. Great location and they provided a complimentary larger room on the 2nd floor. Buchart Gardens, Dragon Boat Festival, Harbor, Irish Pubs, BC Museum, and Fisherman's Wharf made for a great weekend in Victoria. Arrived back in Vancouver about noon on the 16th and boarding was painless and fast. Some folks seemed confused going through customs, etc. but HAL reps were there to assist. Found our luggage in our cabin, explored the ship and found a lounge for a relaxing drink while everyone else seemed to head immediately to the Lido deck for lunch. We were very impressed with the friendliness and helpfulness of the HAL staff. The organization of the trip and receiving a packet with keys, etc. was perfect throughout our two week trip. The variety of entertainment venues and activities on the cruise provided for just about any interest. We enjoyed a few shows in the Vista Lounge especially the Marriage Game where the Cruise Director and an elderly couple celebrating 64 yrs. of marriage provided a very inspirational show for all in attendance. Alaska speaks for itself. While on the cruise portion of our trip we enjoyed the Navigation Deck, the Pinnacle Lounge and the Piano Bar where three talented fellow travelers provided some wonderful music with the pianist. Enjoyed dining in the Vista Dining Room, Pinnacle Grill and room service. Also enjoyed a Salmon Bake on the Lido Deck. Open dining allowed us to meet and dine with fellow travelers from around the world. The coach trip to Denali was long as we had expected but well worth the trip. Some great stops along the way to see Beluga Whales, Iditarod Headquarters and the Veteran's Memorial broke up the long trip. Enjoyed Denali Tundra Tour and our stay at the McKinley Chalet in the Cottonwood. We had purchased meal vouchers as part of the land / cruise package and enjoyed the McKinley Chalet restaurants and the McKinley Explorer. Ended our trip at the Anchorage Hilton which was ok for Anchorage but when we went to the Hilton's restaurant we were given a Holland America Voucher Menu that was a lunch type menu. Luckily we had a very good waitress who spoke with her manager and we were then given a Dinner Menu. When I purchased the dinner package HAL assured me there were no menu restrictions. I expect fellow travelers found this to be an issue and would suggest HAL speak with Anchorage Hilton management. Other than this small issue we had great weather and a excellent trip to BC / Alaska. Also, the Alaskan Summer Ale was superb. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2015
First Time Cruise; 40th Anniversary Celebration. With nothing to compare to, these opinions are based on a comparison to the views of others on Cruise Critic, as well as a comparison to the marketing of Holland America itself. Food: ... Read More
First Time Cruise; 40th Anniversary Celebration. With nothing to compare to, these opinions are based on a comparison to the views of others on Cruise Critic, as well as a comparison to the marketing of Holland America itself. Food: C+. Pinnacle Grill was a memorable, and clearly, higher end dining experience. Main Dining Room (Vista) was good quality and selection, but nothing rising to “The Best ___ I Ever Ate” level. LIDO buffet was on par with mid-range Las Vegas buffets; average quality, below expectation deserts and sub-par coffee. In-room service was good. Service: B+. Although the staff exhibited the traditional “smiles all around”, it was clearly part of the Designed Experience. The actual service was good, but the customer service phone line was never answered in less than a two minute on-hold time for the entire voyage. Nightly towel animals were a nice touch. Activities: B-. If the activities were eliminated which promote any kind of additional cost items, not much would be left. The trip included three days at sea, and this meant that they were long days with limited activity available to those who did not want to shop. Communications: A-. The daily activity plan was distributed each night (along with Junk Mail and Advertising). The Cruise Director and Master kept the passengers up to date on the fight against norovirus. Logistics: A-. Embarkation and Disembarkation went surprisingly smoothly. The Anchorage airport representatives were a bit confused as to meeting points and times, but this was resolved by asking better questions to other reps. The pre-printed Cruise Card indicated assigned seating for meals, when Open Seating was booked…this was corrected the first night. Health: D. Norovirus was active from Day 3 until the end. The isolation procedures appeared to favor non-revenue activities, such as the LIDO. The casino never closed or required gloves. The spa demonstration person used the same rubbing device on every customer without any protection or attempt to sanitize. Value: The Explore4 package was offered at booking, and, exclusive of that, the value would have been poor. As it was, considering the restricted view of the stateroom, limited activities offered, the value was “acceptable” at the very best. Experience: The trip was the first cruise, and was to be a Grand Celebration. But, where Acceptable Value meets disappointment (noro), the resulting overall experience was less than expected. Recommendations: Get on the first bus out of Anchorage, and you will arrive on the ship before the land-tour rail arrives, and have the ship, all quiet, and to yourself, for a few hours. Since we flew from the East Coast of the USA, we bookended the trip with overnight stays in Anchorage and Vancouver; which was good for travel fatigue impact. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
My first time on cruise.Generally satisfied but taken by surprise that had to pay for plain water even from my room fridge. Alcohol OK but water? Also charges of 15% for service in bars or to servants-low ball. HAL charges enough for ... Read More
My first time on cruise.Generally satisfied but taken by surprise that had to pay for plain water even from my room fridge. Alcohol OK but water? Also charges of 15% for service in bars or to servants-low ball. HAL charges enough for trip. Dinners also could be better, chef was slipping at work. Attention to travelers problem from designated staff, poor. Long lines to service desk. And end of trip was the summary. We had to leave room at 9 am and waited until 12.30 to board bus to Anchorage, totally wasted time. Specially that after arrival to Anchorage was to late to go anywhere. My baggage was lost on the way to hotel and nobody know what happened, they have flyer blaming road construction for delays or lost baggage.I got my bag in Denali 30 h latter. Hal need big shake-up Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
This was our first cruise. We decided, with the recommendation of Charlene, our AAA travel agent in Minneapolis. to do the D3C "Double Denali" sea/land tour and were not disappointed. I was a bit concerned at first after reading ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We decided, with the recommendation of Charlene, our AAA travel agent in Minneapolis. to do the D3C "Double Denali" sea/land tour and were not disappointed. I was a bit concerned at first after reading some of the reviews about the Oosterdam a couple of weeks before our trip but have nothing bad to say, in fact, I found the ship, captain and crew to be outstanding! This is a two part trip. First a sea cruise from Vancouver to Seward and then land tours via bus or rail through Denali and ending in Fairbanks. Holland America takes care of their guests. You and your luggage will not fear of getting missed or lost. Outstanding stateroom stewards, great food, outstanding scenery and in our case, good weather. Probably there was not a critter we didn't see. Saw feeding humpbacks, Orcas, Grizzlys, otters, eagles, seals, i could go on and on. Take a look at their website and you will see what is possible. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
I have never cruised before but my wife and I wanted to visit the inside passage of Alaska and this is really the only way to do it. Not being cruisers, we normally like to road trip, we went in very green and opted for an interior ... Read More
I have never cruised before but my wife and I wanted to visit the inside passage of Alaska and this is really the only way to do it. Not being cruisers, we normally like to road trip, we went in very green and opted for an interior stateroom. Big mistake it was small, and to be honest it felt a little like a prison cell. Based on this we requested an upgrade and after 24 hours and two requests we were given an outer cabin with a balcony which gave a completely different meaning to cruising. So I guess our first lesson was do not try and do this type of travel on the cheap. I must say that as expected it did come at a cost but well worth it. We were travelling from the UK for three weeks and I did not want to lumber myself with suits for formal dining. I contacted Holland America to get a definition re formal dining dress. They informed me that the Lido restaurant (buffet style) required formal trousers and collared shirts for evening wear as did the Vista Restaurant on five nights the other two nights would be suit collar and tie. Based on this I just packed formal trousers and shirts with collars. When we got on board the dress wear for the Lido was very casual at all times and therefore we elected for the Vista Restaurant waiter service. Even on the full formal evenings people were being allowed in long sleeve shirts and ties. No jacket required. So I just bought a $10 tie on the ship. We were allocated a table along with six other guests and we were very lucky that we all got on very well and enjoyed each others company. The ship itself looked a little tired in places but was comfortable. As I say this was our first cruise so I cannot compare it with other companies but speaking to other more seasoned cruisers most were giving the impression that whilst they were happy with their lot there are better deals and companies out there. The staff were pleasant and very helpful especially the cabin and restaurant staff. The cruise offered varying sort of entertainment from nightly shows, and various types of music in a number of bars that you could dance or listen to. If you want to lose your shirt there is also a casino. There were also a number of interesting lectures regarding Alaska itself which gave a lot of background information on the State. Our main preference was to sit in the library area by the Crows Nest bar with a glass of wine. There is a coffee bar in this area which serves the best coffee on the ship but at a cost. The actual journey through the inside passage is to be recommended and the scenery spectacular. The three scheduled stops are small towns that lean more to the tourist and I would recommend that if you visit Alaska you should try and also travel inland by either car or train. The tours we elected for were worth the money and well organised. The one thing we did like about cruising was the fact that you went to bed and you woke up at your next destination and someone else has done the work to get you there. I must admit I personally found the last day in the open sea as a bit of a bore as you can only walk around a ship so many times and that is why I would not consider too many cruises in the future. With regard to the additional charges in respect of fixed rate gratuities and service charge I find these a little expensive but I cannot criticise Holland America too much on this as they all lines seem to charge similar fees. I note that people are not happy that they do not receive their final bill until they are just about to leave the ship, I got a copy of our up to date expenses the night before we left to give us time to study any discrepancies. This cruise served our purpose and Holland America was a good foundation for future cruises if we should take one. We felt we learnt the pit falls quickly and there are many but all in all an enjoyable experience.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We are seasoned cruisers with 20+ cruises under our respective belts, both in our mid-50's. We traveled as a party of eight with our adult children aged 24 to 41 years. This is the fifth time we've visited Alaska, third time ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers with 20+ cruises under our respective belts, both in our mid-50's. We traveled as a party of eight with our adult children aged 24 to 41 years. This is the fifth time we've visited Alaska, third time we've sailed with HAL, and second time on the Oosterdam. The train from Anchorage to Seward was spectacular, with good food and comfortable seating. We missed the track wash-out by one day, thankfully. The ship is very pretty and well designed in her layout with an incredible amount of intriguing art. We never had a problem getting around and found all public spaces quite easily. The demographics onboard this particular sailing veered towards the over-70 crowd. There were very few young people and virtually no small children sailing this third week of June. We were a bit surprised by this as we typically have seen more families on cruise ships in Alaska. Surprisingly there were only two cruise directors onboard and a very limited number of activities day and night. There were daily trivia games, two karaoke hours for the week, some dancing, one hour of disco each night, a few production shows, and a VERY old and tired out piano bar set-up. We were (jokingly) asked to leave when we requested something a bit more rock-and-roll. We did leave. This ship tidied up and shut down by 10:30 or 11pm each evening. Oh, the magician and comedian were both excellent. If you're looking for night life... you won't find it here. That being said - the food was absolutely delicious, the service in the MDR was gracious, and our cabin steward was phenomenal. One food regret for me was the Pinnacle Grill. I had so looked forward to this and my steak was chalky and dry. Yuck. The chocolate dessert was an oily bowl of soup with no consistency. Very out of character. I also had a bit of trouble in Explorations Cafe. They just couldn't get the hot chocolate right and told me they were out of chocolate syrup. We found staff for the most part to be accommodating, friendly, and vivacious in most areas. Check out the Pinnacle Bar and Ocean Bar for some light-hearted fun with the bar staff. We didn't shop or use the computer at all so I can't comment to those areas. The spa was gloriously serene and the Thermal Suite/Therapy Pool areas were pure bliss. Passenger services were on top of the few issues we had and Captain Boss kept us well informed throughout the voyage. The aft balcony cabins we booked were amazing with very little jiggle.  We had four aft cabins on Deck 7 and loved them. The balcony doors were opened the entire time so we could visit and relax together. The bed was very comfortable and there was plenty of room with a smallish sofa, table, and extra storage seat. Our verandah had two wicker sitting chairs and one chaise lounge. There was plenty of hanging closet space and storage for everything we brought. We could easily have stored a few weeks' worth of clothes, shoes, etc. in this cabin. You may think there'd be noise in the back, but inside the cabin it was silent. The sound of the ocean and ship's wake were only heard on the balcony. Loved the bathtub/shower combination too - you won't find that on many other cruise lines in a lower category balcony cabin. Weather at this time of year was a bit rainy out of Anchorage, but the sun came out most every afternoon. Passing through Seymour Narrows at midnight was very cool. Would I book HAL again? Maybe for the food and service, but if I wanted to have a little more fun in the evenings, I might check out one of my other favorite cruise lines. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
My wife and I just got back from our 1st cruise, we enjoyed the experience very much, we had an interior room which was smaller than the photos but was very comfortable and not an issue the bed was a delight to sleep in . Our room stewards ... Read More
My wife and I just got back from our 1st cruise, we enjoyed the experience very much, we had an interior room which was smaller than the photos but was very comfortable and not an issue the bed was a delight to sleep in . Our room stewards wer fantastic and offered advice as to the best places in port for free WiFi. We ate most mornings and nights in the Vista dinning room as the food was just amazing and a different menu each night, the staff on every part of the ship worked very hard to keep it clean and fresh daily as well as always smiling and polite. The tender process was very efficient and no problems at all.embarkation and disembarkation is well organised and very quick not an issue as I thought it would be.All the ports were great and most organised a free shuttle bus with locals giving a running commentary. We only booked 1 shore excursion as most we found to expensive to book on ship but we used the port time to walk and explore the each port ourselves, we found that most of the museums were either free or only gold coin donations and were worth the time to explore them it helped get a great feel for the city and it's history, don't be afraid to use the public transport system as we used the bused to travel about often . When researching we could not find any info on the laundry costs as the Oosterdam does not have any available for passenger use but after a few days we spoke to our room stewards about this and found out that for $98 we had unlimited use just fill the bag with the form after organising it with the desk not an issue and worth it, if we had known this before the cruise it would have saved taking to many clothes. Overall it was a great experience and we enjoyed very much. Ron Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our first cruise and Holland America had been recommended by my brother so we had a bit of background on what to expect. The first sighting of the ship on Sunday 8 December from our airport shuttle service coming down George ... Read More
This was our first cruise and Holland America had been recommended by my brother so we had a bit of background on what to expect. The first sighting of the ship on Sunday 8 December from our airport shuttle service coming down George Street Sydney was amazing with the ship moored at Circular Quay towering above the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. From that moment we were impressed with most aspects of the ship and life aboard the Oosterdam. Let me get the few negatives out of the way first. 1. The shore excursions were totally overpriced compared with similar options available dockside. 2. The continual sales pitch to extract extra dollars from passengers was a bit "tacky". (Photos/Artworks/Sidewalk Sales/Wine packages etc) 3. Wine was overpriced compared to beer, spirits and cocktails. 4. Coffee was very average and only tea bags - no leaf tea option was available. Thats all the "cons" I can think of as the "pros" far outweigh them and were numerous. Our cabin 5171 was excellent and could not be faulted. The cabin service was first class with friendly smiling faces each day and all special requests met promptly and efficiently. The food and service in the dining room for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner were excellent. The Lido provided a good range and quality of food and seating was always available. The entertainment was excellent with very talented singers, dancers and musicians. The officers and crew were friendly and helpfull at all times and the process for embarkation and dis embarkation were timely and very efficiently handled as was the tendering process to shore and back when required. The open dining was an excellent option for us as first time cruisers as we were able to meet a lot of very friedly people from all walks of life and from a range of countries. All in all a very pleasing first cruise experience and we will definitely have Holland America as our first choice option for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
We are still recovering from our first cruise experience! We had a wonderful time aboard the Oosterdam and found that we really had two holidays in one. We understand now why so many people do countless cruises year after year...It is a ... Read More
We are still recovering from our first cruise experience! We had a wonderful time aboard the Oosterdam and found that we really had two holidays in one. We understand now why so many people do countless cruises year after year...It is a fun and economical way to travel. I travelled with my husband, we are both in our late twenties from Melbourne, Australia. Anyway, on with my (point form) review! EMBARKATION -We arrived in Sydney around 9.30am so had time to kill. Boarding commenced at 1pm and the queue at this time was massive! I was pleased that we could drop off our suitcases, allowing us to relax by the harbour sipping wine, admiring the ship until we were ready to embark. -customs was very easy, we embarked around 3pm and there was hardly anybody else getting on so it was quick. THE SHIP -looked majestic in Sydney Harbour, sailing out was definitely a highlight (shame we didn't disembark in Circular Quay on our return) -tastefully decorated, beautiful, very elegant decor, always clean and tidy, never found it to be particularly busy in one spot and rarely had to queue for long which surprised us given there were 1,900 guests on board, -it did take a little while to spot some younger travelers (no disrespect intended!) but frankly, we loved cruising with an older crowd because they were so much fun and easy going I always felt safe on board, could leave my purse on the table with no concern of it being stolen, there were no drunk troublemakers and we could just have a fun time doing things like bingo and line dancing without anybody judging us!! :) -Only a small group of kids on board and they seemed to be well taken care of by the kids club. Aside from often taking up the pool and hot tubs, the kids were fine and not too rowdy! ACTIVITIES -a very good range of activities every hour to choose from. Particularly liked the sail away BBQ's, bingo, trivia, game shows and karaoke competitions. -well organised, Jazzy (show host) and Michael (cruise director) were especially vibrant and entertaining. -even if there were no activities of interest on, there was always a band playing somewhere or a cocktail calling our name! -only used the Lido pool once, didn't go in the Sea View pool as the wind was always unpleasant on the decks! The one time we used the pool it was quite literally standing room only. Hot tubs were very powerful! -We used the Greenhouse spa, my husband had a full body massage on his birthday and said it was great. I used the hydrotherapy whirlpool thingy and the thermal suite which was very relaxing and a nice quiet space. The staff here were very helpful. SERVICE -Majority of the staff are from Indonesia and the Phillippines, very sweet natured, gentle and welcoming, always remembered our names and did a great job servicing our room. No complaints! PORTS/SHORE EXCURSIONS -I noticed that next year, HAL will no longer be tendering at Gisbourne and going to Picton instead. Wise choice as we were back on the ship within an hour in Gisbourne, not much to do here. Otherwise, happy with the ports of call although for first timers to NZ, I think a campervan type holiday would have been better to see inland and particularly more of the south island. -we did not book any excursions with the ship as found them very overpriced and not of interest to us. We pre-booked just 2 tours with private companies in Akaroa and Napier and also hired a car to drive around Rotorua/Hobbiton. Both tours were custom designed for cruise ship passengers, picking us up at the dock and getting us back with plenty of time to spare. -we were very impressed with how quickly the ship gets all the passengers on and off especially when tendered, communication was great and the ships shuttle buses were plentiful once in town. CABIN -verandah suite, very comfortable bed, quiet, spacious, shower temperature always perfect, balcony was great especially for cruising the Fjordland whilst enjoying our breakfast. -TV had basic channels, only news was CNN, sport and movie channels, movies very repetitive. Would have liked a channel with talk shows/sitcoms etc as we actually did spend a lot of time in our room. There was a catalogue of free DVDs to borrow but we didn't do this. -I found I would wake up most nights shivering and there were no spare blankets in the room, resorted to covering myself with the robe! DINING -we only visited the dining room once, had any time dining and didn't realise we would be sharing with others at a table. Specialty dining booked out very quickly so we had a combination of room service and lunch at the Terrace Grill, but had most of our meals at the Lido buffet. -a friend recently cruised with Carnival and said that room service was not complimentary and I know that with P&O, you have to pay for some food after 4pm. -Breakfast was always delicious and filling, loved the salad bar and pizza/pasta station. Very good quality food overall and room service was very good too! -We liked the convenience of grabbing a burger by the pool and the mexican buffet was really nice! -We had our fair share of cocktails on board, all reasonably priced compared to other lines and delicious! My favourites were Fashionista, Tropical Cable Car and Ultra Strawberry Lemonade. -Found ourselves at the Ocean Bar and Crows Nest most nights, having a drink and listening to great live music. -Only suggestion would be more drink service in the Lido buffet as we often struggled to find a waitress while we were eating. Service was abundant by the pools. Perhaps a soda fountain would be good too with free drinks just during dining hours?!? Hmm...not sure if that will ever happen! ENTERTAINMENT -Fantastic!!!! 10/10!!! Shows in the Vista lounge every night at 8pm and again at 10pm. Filled up very quickly so we would try to arrive at least 15 mins early to get a booth at the front. -The "HAL Cats" band was great, as I said earlier there was always some form of entertainment happening on the ship. The game shows, "Dancing with the Stars" competition and karaoke were thoroughly entertaining. -Only critique, I purchased a DVD of the entertainment expecting full length recordings of each show but was disappointed with a "highlights" compilation. If I'd known the shows weren't recorded, I would have done so myself! Would love to watch them all again :( -In regards to internet connection: it was very slow as expected, especially in our cabin. At every port, there were "Free WiFi" stickers everywhere so in hindsight, I wouldn't have purchased an internet plan on board. DISEMBARKATION -Again, very easy, well organised process. We were off the ship and in a taxi within 30 minutes. -Had to leave our suitcases outside our cabin by midnight the night before so had to think ahead regarding clothes and supplies for the next morning. -Was expecting to go through customs/metal detectors in the terminal but literally grabbed our cases, handed over our immigration card and walked out! SUMMARY -We absolutely loved our first cruising experience with HAL! Would definitely sail with them again, would love to try their other ships. -Beautiful ship, a bounty of activities and entertainment for every age group and service with a smile! -I think that cruise holidays are something you either love or hate. I did heaps of research before booking our trip, read A LOT of reviews/forums to find out if it was for us. My advice for first time cruisers is do your research and make sure you get the most for your money. -We were not disappointed with Holland America and the best thing for me personally was that I felt safe and relaxed surrounded by an older crowd. I hope you enjoyed my review and find it helpful! Thanks for reading :) Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
We had a wonderful cruise on the Oosterdam. We did our best to enjoy everything we could as the days flew by. We took full advantage of Seattle by arriving several days early. We toured through the city on our own. Some of the highlights ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise on the Oosterdam. We did our best to enjoy everything we could as the days flew by. We took full advantage of Seattle by arriving several days early. We toured through the city on our own. Some of the highlights were The Seattle Underground Tour in Pioneer Square, the Smith Tower observation deck (better than the Space Needle and cheaper), and Canon (an amazing bar with a 44+ page list of spirits and exquisite cocktails) Boarding went smoothly and we could go to our directly to our cabins then off to eat at the buffet on the Lido deck. Enjoyed eating by the pool as the weather was beautiful and sunny. Spa - Our group had a excellent sampling of many spa services. We tried massages, pedicures, manicures, and hair styling. All got high marks and there was not a big sales pitch during the treatment. Many of us got the Thermolounge/Hydropool passes. That was wonderful and included a quiet serene indoor heated pool, aromotherapy saunas and heated stone loungers with a view. Cabins and Room Stewards - We had a great idea to split our group up in such a way as to have balcony cabins on both sides of the ship. We also had cabins next to each other and the staff opened the dividers between them for us at our request. We could gather as a group on either side of the ship depending on the best view. Our stewards did a great job for us and we have no complaints. Teenage programs - Our teenagers loved it and made friends quickly. Seemed to be a pack of about 20 some teenagers. They spent a lot of late nights with their group, but joined the family for port excursions and meals. I heard about scavenger hunts, dances, mocktail mixing class and their own prom on the last formal night. Most of their evening activities started at times more convienent to those with early dining times. Main Dining Room - Service was slow as we often had a large group. May have been better to do fixed dining as reservations were difficult with a lot of people. Food was delicious which made the service a non issue for us. We needed plenty of time to catch up and the long dinner was perfect for us. Appetizers were always the highlight and many of us took to ordering several. Bread was consistently disappointing, not much flavor and typically hard rolls. Formal night was great as our group went all out and the men wore tuxes. We were in the minority, but it made for great pictures. My husband really enjoyed playing blackjack in his tux. Must of helped as he won over $700. Le Cirque Night - On Thursday night, the Pinnacle Grill is "transformed" into NYC's Le Cirque restaurant. There is a $39 charge, but it was worth it for us. The tables were set with genuine Le Cirque china (has a cute monkey on it) and fine glassware. Menu was amazing and plentiful. The deconstructed caesar salad was terrific and I think all caesar salads should come with a poached egg. The beef for the Chateaubriand was outstanding and so was the lobster salad. We couldn't eat it all. It was a memorable night with terrific service. Room Service - Excellent and plentiful. My kids took full advantage of it on a continual basis. Ordered milk and cookies, hot chocolate, cheese plates for everyone as we enjoyed our balconies while crusing through Tracy Arm. Hot breakfast was great too. Don't forget to call room service back when you're done so they can take the dishes back. Nightlife - On the dull side which was fine for our group. Apparently, this cruise did not have many late night partiers so casino and nightclub wrapped up around 1 a.m. The crew said this was unusual. Cocktail specials of the day were good and happy hour (2 for 1) at the Oceans bar was great. Wine list was disappointing and expensive for what you got. Fortunately, we knew this ahead of time and brought bottles of our own choosing on board with us. One special treat was the Louis XII cognac. My husband used some of his winning to try a shot of this special spirit since it was only $89 as opposed to the $250 back home. The bar staff was wonderful and made a big deal over this special order. Disembarkation was smooth and quick, however, we had not made prior arrangements for a taxi or van. Since we selected the last time slot for getting off the ship, the taxi van's were already gone with the first group of passengers, so the taxi wait was very long. Lesson learned. This was definitely a trip of a lifetime for our family. We enjoyed every minute. My 17 year old boy summed it up best when he proclaimed it "the best vacation ever!"   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
As this was my very first cruise, I was very excited and looking forward to cruising on the Osterdam. However, my excitement was squashed when I showed up and discovered that the regular paying passengers were going to be outnumbered by a ... Read More
As this was my very first cruise, I was very excited and looking forward to cruising on the Osterdam. However, my excitement was squashed when I showed up and discovered that the regular paying passengers were going to be outnumbered by a southern gospel group that would take over the ship, and create a second class status for those who weren't part of the group. I knew things were going to be bad when on Sunday, the elevator door opened and a woman thrusted a bible in my face. At one breakfast, a gentleman asked me what religion I was and when I told hin I was Catholic, he implied that I was going to hell. Many activities were canceled for the regular passengers and the only time for shows was 930pm. A veteran's group meeting was canceled due to this religious group occupying the meeting room and over extending their time. Several times the Crow's Nest and other venues were closed to regular paying passengers. Yet, it was strongly enforced that passengers who were not members of the group were not welcomed at any of their events. Nighttime was dead and the ship was a ghost town after 900pm since all the holy rollers went to bed!!! Instead of showing previews of the cruise's trip DVD, they showed previews of the gospel group activities. This is very much ashame as the ship and crew were fabulous. It was a very speedy check-in that took less than 20 minutes from taxi to opening the door of my room. Looking over at the Princess line that looked like hours long, I was very thankful for this. There were two lines for embarkation photos, one for the regular passengers with a blah background, and one for the gospel group with a fancier background. The food in the dining room was excellent. The lido deck buffet was so-so. The entertainment, although abbreviated because of the gospel group, was superb with fantastic broadway style shows. I especially liked the Movie theme night and the Garage show. Because of the holy rollers, all the dance floors were DEAD. There were a few in the piano bar. My biggest disappointment was the late night buffet. It was served from 1030pm until 1130pm. The food wasn't all that great. There was never any ice sculptures and no chocolate fountin night. My room was the best part!! I was upgraded to an obstructed view . The room wa very big and tastefuly done. This is a wonderful ship and very elegant. The glass elevators were the iceing on the cake!! The ship was always spotless. The Indonesian crews, whether it be the cabin stewards or the waiters in the dining room, worked tirelessly and always with a smile. It's aashame that Corporate HAL had to be decitful and greedy. They should have booked the entire ship for the gospel group (like they did the following week for the gay cruise) or innformed all passengers so they could reschedule. Most of the regular paying passengers that I spoke with are very upset and said they'll never sail HAL again. If I had been warned in advance, I would have changed my travel date to a different cruise. It's ashame because the ship and frontline emplyees were topshelf. HAL Corporate turned what could have been a A+++ first time cruise to a C-. Feeling cheated and scammed by HAL, next time I will travel Princess!!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
This was our first cruise, and overall it was a wonderful experience because of the breathtaking scenery, the outstanding service, and the yummy food. However, we were unprepared for the degree of seasickness we both experienced. So, a lot ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and overall it was a wonderful experience because of the breathtaking scenery, the outstanding service, and the yummy food. However, we were unprepared for the degree of seasickness we both experienced. So, a lot of the cruise ended up being a blur, as we were drowsy and woozy from the Dramamine we had to keep taking. Two nights were rough, but one night--the evening of Day 5, as the boat sailed south after our day in Sitka--was absolute hell. The boat was tossing to and fro so violently, we abruptly had to leave dinner in the dining room and attempt to get to our cabin to lie down. This was no small task, as we stumbled and lurched all over the hallways, clutching the railings for dear life. Fortunately, we found some discreetly placed containers of vomit bags near the elevators. (We would fill 3 of them by night's end.) The location of our cabin (8012) didn't help; we found out later that a cabin on a low deck, most toward the center of the boat, would have the least motion. If this is true, then we were seriously out of luck--our cabin was nearly the most forward, and on the highest cabin deck. The cabin itself was lovely; however. We didn't mind at all that it was a small, interior room. It was private and quiet, clean, and had tons of closet space. I was afraid we might feel claustrophobic, but we didn't at all. The bed was very comfortable; we had no problems sleeping. The bathroom had plenty of space, and the shower was spacious enough, had a detachable showerhead, and high-quality shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel in convenient dispensers. One problem we noticed with the room, however, would occur in the afternoons and early evenings (we took a lot of daytime naps because of the Dramamine)--there would suddenly be a very strong odor of some kind of chemical--it smelled like turpentine--that would fill the entire cabin and linger for hours. We smelled it all over the boat at various times and guessed it to be a cleaner or polish of some kind. Our toilet clogged one night for no apparent reason, but we called it in, and the repairman promptly came and fixed it. No problems after that. He was also quite helpful and showed us how to make our shower water hotter--the shower knobs were odd, and we hadn't realized that you could turn them counter-clockwise 360 degrees to get more hot water (still no idea what the red button is for). Our room stewards, Komang and Gede, were terrific. I can recall only a couple instances during the entire cruise that we did not see Komang somewhere on our hallway, joyfully calling out greetings to us by name. When we left to go to breakfast, we'd return to the room less than an hour later and find they had slipped in Ninja-style and cleaned already. We spent a lot of time on the Lido deck because the views were amazing and the food was terrific. We probably gained a good 30 lbs between the two of us during the cruise! The Lido breakfast was my favorite. I loved the eggs cooked to order, the amazing breakfast potatoes, and the delicious, fresh waffles with fruit compote of your choice. Also, the coffee was outstanding!! I drank their decaf coffee all day and evening because it was so good--hey, I'm from Seattle, and I know coffee--I still can't believe it was decaf; it was just. so. good. One complaint about the Lido that I should mention--FOOD ALLERGY SUFFERERS, TAKE NOTE--it was difficult to be certain about potential allergens in the Lido food offerings. In the Vista dining room, they bend over backwards to accommodate any food allergies you might have, but not so in the Lido. I am fatally allergic to nuts. One afternoon, during a quiet time when the Lido crowds had cleared out, my husband ordered a chocolate ice-cream cone for me. After a few bites of it, I crunched into a walnut. Turns out it was Rocky Road ice cream! My husband went back to the ice-cream lady and she explained, "Sometimes we have 'specialty chocolate' flavors, so when you order 'chocolate,' that is what you get." Wow. That could've ended really badly. At the very least, THE LIDO REALLY NEEDS TO PUT ALLERGEN LABELS ON ITS FOOD. We ate a handful of times in the Vista dining room for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner. The food was always great, and again, they took great care of me and my food allergies; but the meals were too slow-paced for us. One night, our dinner lasted well over 2.5 hours. Many people would like that, but it was just too long for us to be sitting in the same chairs. Also, set on the tail end of the boat, we experienced a great deal of motion in the dining room. Given our seasickness, this was not an ideal way to enjoy a meal. We didn't take advantage of as many shipboard activities as we would've liked, but we did enjoy Trivia in the Crow's Nest Lounge every day with Cruise-Director Drew. We won 3 times, and have lovely Oosterdam and Holland America pins to show for it. Drew made it fun; our only complaint was that there were never enough trivia questions. :-) Overall, we did have a wonderful time and enjoyed Holland America immensely. My husband and I are mature 42-year olds, so we fit in well with the majority of our fellow passengers. We wanted to avoid any semblance of loud, drunken partygoer types, rowdy children, packs of teenagers, college students, etc. Holland America was perfect for us, as mostly everyone was our age and beyond. Very quiet and relaxing. We will definitely cruise with Holland America again--but next time, we'll be more proactive with motion-sickness remedies! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
Our Seattle to Juneau to Seattle cruise aboard the Oosterdam was the best vacation I can remember. We're new to cruising and this cruise has spoiled my wife and me for any other type of vacation. We're already planning a European ... Read More
Our Seattle to Juneau to Seattle cruise aboard the Oosterdam was the best vacation I can remember. We're new to cruising and this cruise has spoiled my wife and me for any other type of vacation. We're already planning a European cruise for just the two of us and an extended-family Caribbean cruise with my siblings and all of our adult and teen children. The ship was very comfortable in a sophisticated way, our balcony stateroom was large by cruise line standards and very comfortable, the food (with minor exceptions) was excellent, the entertainment was fun, the spa was luxurious but, above all, the service was phenomenal. Our Indonesian room stewards greeted us even before we entered our room, introduced themselves, learned our names and asked if we had any immediate requests. During the remainder of the cruise they greeted us warmly by name, made up our cabin when they wouldn't be in our way, provided a second sprucing up and turndown while we were out for the evening and left us needing nothing. The only staff that surpassed our cabin stewards for level of service were our dining room stewards. Our table steward and his assistant, both also Indonesian, were friendly, omnipresent without being intrusive, and concerned with making sure that everything, and I do mean everything, was perfect. We signed up for the late dinner service at 7:45 each evening. It worked wonderfully for us, giving us time to clean up from shore excursions, have a wonderful perfectly paced four-course meal and still have time for late shows or laid back time in one of the ship's lounges. We had a four-top dining table set for two right next to the windows looking out over the ship's wake. It was the little things that made the service top-notch. At our second dinner our friendly servers greeted us by name, paced our dinner perfectly for the two of us and, remembering that my wife had ordered after dinner coffee the previous night and I hadn't, served her coffee and asked me if I would like any. They had noted which bread we ate and which we left uneaten the night before and our basket was filled with our favorites and not the others for the remainder of the cruise. They quickly determined (correctly) that we liked efficient, unobtrusive service with a little chit-chat while the Japanese party of three at the next table preferred a quiet but more ostentatious presentation and close attention by the wine steward, and that the large younger group at the table on the other side of us wanted to have a lot of interaction and conversation with the wait staff. Everyone was catered to in the most amazing, personalized and pampering way. We had one pretty rough evening on the ship. Little white bags appeared next to all of the elevators and in our stateroom even before things got bad. At dinner, some of the tables were sparsely populated or outright empty. My wife had a single bite of her appetizer and one bite of her salad before deciding that she was going back to the cabin. She didn't feel like she was going to throw up, just that eating was completely unappealing for her. Our head table steward came over to me immediately after she left to inquire after my wife's welfare and make sure that there was nothing that they had done to cause her any problem. The next night their greeting included a hearty welcome back for her and what felt like real concern that she be feeling better. Barmen, lounge wait staff and lido deck food servers were all professional and quick to serve as well. As for the food, everything we had in the main dining room (breakfast, lunch or dinner) was very good to excellent, presentation was beautiful and freshness of ingredients was obvious. All of the sauces and soups we had were wonderful, seafood was fresh and cooked just right and steaks were cooked exactly as ordered. In most restaurants my wife, who likes her steaks rare, orders medium rare because so few places get rare right. She found that ordering a rare steak on this cruise produced one perfectly done. Salads were crisp and vegetables were never overcooked. The only things we found lacking in the dining room were the crusts on pies and other pastries. After the first couple of less than flaky, dry crusts we steered our dessert choices to wonderful chocolate cakes, elegant baked Alaska, etc. We ate in the extra cost Pinnacle Grill our second night on the ship to celebrate our 26th anniversary and had a pleasant experience but didn't think it was worth doing again. We paid $50 out-of-pocket for an upscale meal but were disappointed, not because it was bad but because the main dining room was so good that there wasn't much room for improvement. My filet mignon was a heavenly cut of meat cooked perfectly, but sides were average, prawns were slightly overcooked and we felt the level of service was not an improvement over our dining room experience. The food at the lido deck buffet stations was so-so. They did some nice things like cooked to order omelets and pressed sandwiches, and very fresh cut fruit and salads but the rest (Italian, burgers, pizza and Mexican) were average at best. We ate there only on embarkation day and if we missed times for meals in the main dining room. Okay, I admit I did make a few stops specifically for scoops of rocky road in waffle cones. The first 48 hours of the cruise the buffets were not self-serve as they were trying to avoid the possibility of any viral outbreaks so everything was served by staff. Entertainment was hit and miss. The ship's show singers and dancers were not very good. After the first welcome show we didn't attend any other shows with them. We had a magician one night and a ventriloquist/comedian another night. Both were pretty good and we enjoyed their shows. The best theatre show was the one put on by the Indonesian crew members. They showed us some of their culture, some talented song and dance performances and a little comedy, a very fun time. There were also small groups or individuals that performed in the ship's lounges. A classical duo of piano and violin was fun to listen to as we watched the ocean go by, a solo pianist in the piano bar led sing-alongs of Beatles songs one night and 60s and 70s music another. There was also a solo guitarist that played at night in the crow's nest lounge who had a pretty good set, took requests and had a lot of slightly sarcastic fun with the late night crowd. We ended up there on multiple nights. We attended a really fun karaoke night, a champagne art auction, cooking demos, small-scale drink tastings and a walkthrough of the ship's kitchens. We participated in trivia contests and I played in a Texas hold 'em tournament. We enjoyed happy hours and late night dessert showcases. We never made it to the movie screenings, computer classes or informational/educational lectures since we were busy doing other things. All-in-all we didn't feel like we were ever hurting for something fun to do. Most everything is geared to a bit older crowd. At 51 and 45 we were below average age on the ship. Our cruise had some young couples, a small number of teenagers and very few children. The public areas of the ship are very comfortable and generally well-appointed. The main theatre stage area seats a good number at tables in front and tiered seats behind and in the balcony, but there are several large columns that give some seats obscured views of the stage. Nearly every lounge/bar seat has an ocean view. Our favorites were the intimate piano bar and the crow's nest. The crow's nest has a bar on one side and a coffee bar on the other, a small dance floor, a large library, computer stations and lots of games, puzzles, etc. The 270 degrees of curved walls host seating with great views of the ocean. We loved sitting here with a drink or a coffee, watching the waves roll by and occasionally spotting a whale. Onboard shopping was overpriced, as expected, but they had some really nice things, duty free shops, etc. Our stateroom was good size, cozy but not too tight. The queen size Posturepedic pillow top bed was awesome, as good as any hotel bed I've slept on. I dread hotels because I sleep terribly in anything but my own bed at home. But even on open ocean nights with a good deal of ocean roll we fell asleep almost immediately and slept right through to the arrival of our morning room service. There is plenty of storage in the room. Our cruise was in Alaska so, of course, we brought a lot more clothing than we would on a tropical vacation. Even so, we found places for everything. There is more than enough hanging storage that can be converted to shelves and there are cubbies or drawers under beds and couches, below vanities and on open shelves. The bathroom was nothing special with a single small sink, an open shelf vanity, small shower with retracting clothesline and vacuum flush toilet similar to an airline toilet, but the room was efficiently laid out, water was hot and everything worked just as it should. Outlets are scarce so we brought a three-way splitter that allowed us to charge phones and tablets and use blow-dryers and other appliances. Our balcony was private and comfortable and even a little bigger than I had thought it would be. We spent a good deal of time sitting there or leaning on the railing when it wasn't too windy, watching the world go by. On our day in the Tracy Arm Fjord I was out there for hours. We went once to the spa. Services are pretty pricy but if you wait a few days into the cruise they start offering special packages. My wife signed up for a "ladies night" special that included an hour of massage and an hour in the hydrotherapy pool and on the heated tile chaise lounges, so relaxing. When she signed up she asked if husbands could take advantage of the promo as well and they readily signed me up. We paid $99 each for our two hours of pampering. It was great. I've never been more relaxed. Another reviewer complained about not having enough time in ports as if it were a surprise. The schedule of the ship stuck to the itinerary exactly. We knew going in that we weren't going to have a ton of shore time. That was fine with us since, as first time cruisers, we were fine with most of our time being onboard. Shore time IS tight on this particular cruise since it starts and ends in Seattle. They have a lot of ocean to cover in a tight time frame. You cruise the Tracy Arm Fjord, and have shore time in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan Alaska as well as Victoria, BC. Shore time was lacking in Ketchikan and Victoria at six hours each, but we still enjoyed all the wonderful towns we visited, some adventurous shore excursions and some casual shopping and dining on shore. If you want a cruise with a maximum amount of time on land, you'd be better off with one of the one-way Alaska cruises. As a first-time cruise experience this was better in every way than we had expected and, like I said, has spoiled us for any other vacation. We would definitely cruise with HAL again and we're busy recommending this cruise to friends and family, really anyone that will listen. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
I travelled with my family (daughter, son-in-law and two of my grandchildren). I had no idea what cruise line to choose, having never cruised before. They picked HAL, and said it would be more my style. We booked two VD cabins on the ... Read More
I travelled with my family (daughter, son-in-law and two of my grandchildren). I had no idea what cruise line to choose, having never cruised before. They picked HAL, and said it would be more my style. We booked two VD cabins on the upper promonade deck, but later upgraded to an SY and SB cabin on the upper veranda. Check-in began at noon or 1pm, but we didn't show up until a little after two. We were able to walk right up and check in. We checked out our cabins - I was impressed, and my son-in-law (with the SB cabin) was very impressed. We walked around awhile, and checked out the crows nest, and at 4pm we were on deck as the Oosterdam left Seattle. During the next seven days, I was totally pleased by the cabin, the service, the food, even the weather. As much as it rains in that part of the world, for us the sun shone every day. I've read other reviews by travelers on the same voyage, maybe it's all just luck -- we had a great cabin with no problems, our steward was friendly and attentive, the dining room service was wonderful (maybe just a little slow, but what's time when you're on vacation). I had a massage at the spa, and it was lovely, except for the sales pitch to buy products. We attended some of the shows in the Vista Lounge, they were nice, but not Vegas quality. Still, as I said, they were entertaining. There were not LOTS of kids on board, but enough so that my grandchildren made friends to swim, and play with. They enjoyed Club Hal, for the most part. If I have the opportunity, I will definately sail the Oosterdam again! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
On March 3, 2013, our day of departure, we arrived early at Barangaroo Wharf 5 in order to beat the crowds. Once there, we had an orderly check-in and then were asked to assemble with a group of about forty people. Apparently the ... Read More
On March 3, 2013, our day of departure, we arrived early at Barangaroo Wharf 5 in order to beat the crowds. Once there, we had an orderly check-in and then were asked to assemble with a group of about forty people. Apparently the passengers from the previous cruise were still disembarking, so HAL decided to treat us to a two-hour bus tour of Sydney while we were waiting. We had a nice tour around town and a stop-over at Bondi Beach. Once back at the Oosterdam, we were shown to our cabins without further ado. We were so pleasantly surprised by our stateroom; it was on the Navigation deck (8079), starboard center, with a gigantic verandah. The room itself was spacious and had ample luggage and storage room. Our two cabin stewards, Indra and Sutarno, were outstanding in every way. We got to know them quite well while on our twenty-seven day journey on the ocean waves. I would describe the Oosterdam as an elegant ship, neither dazzling nor garish. She was more cozy and comfy, with some nice artsy touches. Everything seemed to be spotless, which is, as they say, next to godliness. I noticed the profusion of hand-cleansing dispensers scattered around the ship. This gave me a clear impression that the management was dead serious about stopping the spread of bacteria and viruses through unwashed hands. Good for them! The food in the Lido Lounge was, um, average-to-slightly above-average most days. The best meals in the Lido, I think, were the breakfast omelets, Panini sandwiches, pasta bar, and dessert bar. The entrees could be hit or miss, depending on the day. There was also a little hamburger station at the Lido pool which served great burgers and hot dogs. A "Mexican" station was also set up by the Lido pool, and I hear the best item was the shrimp/guacamole/mandarin salad. We only dined in the Vista Lounge twice, and both times our steaks were as tough as a cadaver. With almost a month on board one gets a good feel for the ship's milieu. The Oosterdam was no exception, as we became settled into a routine on sea days. I know my husband complained a little about there not being much activity on board, and a slight insouciance by the athletic staff to organize sports activities during the day, especially table tennis. It would also be safe to say that there was very little activity for young children or teenagers onboard, as the Oosterdam is geared mostly for mature adults, although, ironically, the adults we spoke to all said that there should be more sports activities around the Lido pool area for adults. One of the more enjoyable aspects of the Oosterdam was the Crow's Nest, a lovely atrium-like area with great views and a nice little library and computer area. Each day the Cruise Director would host a Team Trivia game, and this proved to be a big hit. There was also Happy Hour at the Crow's Next bar and the Queen's Lounge, where passengers could buy their second drink for $1. I won't go into detail about ports visited, except to say that the process was very smooth indeed, even when we had to use the ship's tenders. One memorable occasion was when our tender was halfway between the ship and the Akaroa dock when the engine stopped. We floated for a good fifteen minutes and then, voila, the engines started up again. I'm glad they did, because Akaroa was a beautiful little town in a most picturesque and sheltered bay. There were many highlights of our cruise on the Oosterdam, not the least of which was our good fortune to meet some lovely people from Australia. These folks made our trip so memorable, along with the excellent Oosterdam Captain Arjen Van der Loo and his outstanding crew. All in all, it was a terrific experience and one I won't soon forget. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
Emabarkation Late embarkation due to previous cruise being a charter but as we arrived early we were on board before it got too busy. Leaving from temporary terminal at Barangaroo was not perfect but did the job. Our Cabin Our verandah ... Read More
Emabarkation Late embarkation due to previous cruise being a charter but as we arrived early we were on board before it got too busy. Leaving from temporary terminal at Barangaroo was not perfect but did the job. Our Cabin Our verandah was one of the smaller ones and did overlook the lifeboats if you looked straight down but this did not worry us. The room was comfortable, clean, tidy, plenty of storage space and in reasonably good condition considering they are occupied 365 days of the year. Suitcases arrived within a couple of hours of boarding. One of our Stewards, Ibrahim introduced himself and along with our other Steward, Yadi, were fantastic throughout our cruise, always friendly and eager to assist and kept our room in tip top shape. The Ship We don't have any other cruise to compare but we really liked the ship. We were not after the glitzy, resort style ship holding 3,000 + passengers, we wanted a more intimate shipboard feel and the Oosterdam delivered this. Yes in some spots the carpet was a little worn and some of the furniture looked as if it had been well used but overall she was in good condition and had a relaxed atmosphere. I really liked the ambience and style of the ship but occasionally you would look at a bit of art work or a piece of furniture and ask yourself 'what were they thinking', however this quirkiness only added to the whole experience. Dining Good to very good food keeping in mind the quantities required. No trouble getting a table for 2 in the MDR but personally preferred lunch in the MDR and dinner in the LIDO when it was much quieter. Breakfast was excellent, however very busy unless you were up early, but we never had problems finding a table. Service was good to excellent and always friendly. No problems getting service anywhere on the ship. Coffee For our next cruise we are already working out a way to take coffee bags on board and just using the hot water. Even in the Explorations Cafe my DH needed a triple shot latte to get something approximating a cup of coffee that was strong enough for our Australian coffee culture taste, but I think this is a cruise ship problem that is not restricted to HAL. Crew Lovely friendly people, never experienced a grumpy moment and I have to commend them, some of the passengers were AWFUL. The women (and men) at the front desk especially need commendation for their patience -- I would not have been so understanding. The Captain and staff were all around the ship. I commend the Captain for being approachable when it was found we had to miss our last port and race the cyclone, he kept us up to date and even held a Q&A in the Vista Lounge and took the hard questions from the people that were very unhappy (putting it mildly) at missing ports. However the majority of passengers present at the briefing IMO endorsed the Captain's decision to put safety before anything else. Ports Isle of Pines -- A beautiful spot, we basically disembarked went to the area for snorkelling and swam for most of the day. The beaches and island are truly lovely. Easau Lifou --We had to miss this port due to high winds. It is in a conservation area and they have a small patch in which to anchor next to a reef and if the winds are too high the Oosterdam could run aground on the reef and damage it. It was a beach stop which would have been nice. Port Vila, Vanuatu -- Very lush island and friendly people. This is a nation that struggles with poverty and as such welcomes cruise ships and tourism to assist with their economy. We took the ship sponsored round the island tour and it was a jam packed day. Suva -- Unfortunately we were there on a Sunday and a lot of the town was closed, I am sure if you had organised a tour outside the township you would have been fine. Dravuni Island -- This is a lovely slice of Paradise; the island only has 200 residents and lovely long beaches. You could walk around the pathways or sit on the beach and swim in the lovely clear waters (we chose the latter). We had arrived early but also had to depart early as the Captain had to leave at a certain time to start our run away from Cyclone Sandra. It was a lovely day. Sydney -- Our unexpected port due to arriving early ahead of the cyclone, we did not get off the ship as we wanted to enjoy our last day aboard but looking from all the ship vantage points over the lovely harbour of Sydney was a treat. For dinner that night we took our meal out onto the back pool deck as it was a balmy temperature and had the best seat in the house, the view was superb. Entertainment We are not party animals but noticed when we finished watching the late show in the Vista Lounge that there were still plenty of people wandering around. Overall we found the entertainment excellent; Shelly White the pianist was very entertaining. We saw most of the shows and the Oosterdam singers and dancers did a good job, a little cheesy at times but a lot of fun. The lead male singer especially had a great voice. Vivienne and the Hal Cats did an excellent job around the ship, I never heard them being too loud or screechy. Didn't have a chance to listen to Adagio but when we passed them by several times the area they were in was always full. Never went to the Piano Bar but that was because when we peeked in it was packed and no room for more, so he must have been okay. Passengers Mostly Australians and New Zealanders with a good sprinkling of Americans and Canadians. Quite a big group of Japanese and some from Europe. On the whole a friendly laid back lot, mainly mid 50's and up but still a good representation from the younger age groups who seemed to be enjoying themselves. Beverages (other than coffee) We found the ability to take on board as much wine as we liked fantastic. We had an excellent selection of what we like and in some cases drank it in our cabin or paid the $18 corkage, either way it was the best way for us to do our wine. Cocktails and beer were very well priced by Australian standards and I enjoyed my daily cocktail. The drinks waiters were all very friendly and always on hand if needed. Debarkation We opted for the later debarkation, relatively easy and quick. Went downstairs at our assigned time, small line up, checked off the ship and through customs in about 15 minutes. Overall Experience Loved it, one of the best holidays we have had, certainly the most relaxing even when running ahead of a cyclone. Have already booked on the Oosterdam again in October for the New Zealand trip. As we have only done one cruise we are not faithful to any one cruise line yet and looked at Celebrity and Princess for this trip, but the Oosterdam's itinerary is what sold us on going on her again and after enjoying this trip we have no problem with repeating our shipboard experience.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
We were an extended family group which included 6 children between 3 - 11 and 8 Adults 35 - 65, across 5 cabins. Oh yes - and we were all on our first cruise! The other members of our party were in cabins that had a window looking out ... Read More
We were an extended family group which included 6 children between 3 - 11 and 8 Adults 35 - 65, across 5 cabins. Oh yes - and we were all on our first cruise! The other members of our party were in cabins that had a window looking out to the sea, but my partner and I decided we wanted a bit of luxury and booked ourselves a balcony suite , which was absolute heaven! The Oosterdam was fantastic - particularly for the children who spent most of their time in the kids club , which they absolutely loved. We only ever really saw the children at meal times. Meal times in the formal dining room were fantastic - the waiters went out of their way to look after the kids and entertain them , they were sensational. The food was out of this world and catered so well to my partner's diabetes , he couldn't believe they made sensational deserts just for diabetics like him. We discovered an entire fridge of diabetic deserts up in the Lido dining area! Talking of the Lido , great food, from breakfast to supper. The French Onion Soup is to die for , and it is available every night in the main dining room (if you must have it every night). The Pinnacle Grill impressed my partner so very much , he said he had never tasted a better lobster tail in his life. Our cabin was 6069 on the Upper Veranda Deck. It was lovely having the veranda to go out and sit and watch the waves go by, or have a couple of other family member pop up and join us for a drink. The beds were sensational , extremely comfortable, and we were rocked to sleep every night. There was loads of cupboard space to fit all of our stuff, and the bathroom was a pretty good size too. The guys who looked after our cabin were fantastic and treated us to a different towel critter every night. I had expected to experience a little sea-sickness but didn't have any at all, which was pretty amazing given that we spent at least some of the cruise dodging cyclones. The only thing I would criticise is the coffee , it was dreadful. Even in the Explorations Lounge where you pay extra for it, it was horrible. We're going to take our own instant next time we go , yep it's THAT bad! Wow what a fantastic cruise, what a great crew, great food, extraordinarily relaxing, lovely friendly service staff and great cabins. I can't wait until December 2013. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
We had a lovely first time cruise with our disabled daughter on the Oosterdam. But like any holiday there were problems that we were unprepared for. The help that we received from most of the staff was exceptional. We managed to get a ... Read More
We had a lovely first time cruise with our disabled daughter on the Oosterdam. But like any holiday there were problems that we were unprepared for. The help that we received from most of the staff was exceptional. We managed to get a great deal of help to get her and the wheelchair onto a tender to go to the Isle of Pines and also off the ship at Vanuatu and Noumea. But what we couldn't get was information about the islands that we visited.We had no idea that the Isle of Pines had a sealed road for example. In Noumea the ship docked at the container wharf. We were told that shuttles would takes us to the city as we couldn't walk through the wharf. But the shuttle buses had 4 steps to get on board. Too bad if you are old or disabled. I had to enlist some strong passengers to lift her on the bus - everyone was helpful except the tour director in charge.She told me to ask the driver of the bus for help. The disabled stateroom was spacious and the bathroom had a walk-in shower. But the door to the room was heavy.The bed was lovely but quite high for transfer without lifting. The ship had great dining facilities and there was space to walk with a wheelchair inside and out. The pools were not accessible and the lovely spa pool in the brochures was not part of the "free pools". We did manage to use a spa pool that had two steps up - not an easy task. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
Cruising is something everyone should do at least once. According to fellow passengers who had been on many, this cruise was above average. We enjoyed it. Contrary to the early reviews, you won't be sorry you did this. Since this ... Read More
Cruising is something everyone should do at least once. According to fellow passengers who had been on many, this cruise was above average. We enjoyed it. Contrary to the early reviews, you won't be sorry you did this. Since this cruise is mostly on the inside passage, you are not likely to get seasick. Getting onboard is easy enough. If you are coming from far away, come the night before and have Holland-American handle your transfer from hotel to ship. They will transfer baggage from hotel to ship. The less carry-on, the easier both at security and when you go on board. Clearing security was painless compared to airline check-ins. After you get onboard, eat lunch and then start at the top of the ship and go down touring the public spaces. I never got myself fully oriented port to starboard and forward to aft, but each stairwell has a good map. YOUR STATEROOM The staterooms are showing wear, but still perfectly pleasant and comfortable. They have adequate storage space and amenities. If you can, get a stateroom on the Port side of the ship-the views are better-at least on this cruise. Avoid the staterooms on deck 4 whose views are obstructed by lifeboats. We were able to get into our stateroom immediately-baggage came about four hours later. We had a stateroom with a balcony. I'm not sure the balcony was necessary but it was pleasant enough to have. The stateroom was good-sized with a sofa, desk, bed and storage space. The bathroom had a small sink and vanity, a good sized medicine cabinet, a toilet and a good shower. Be warned the outlet in the bathroom is low wattage. But those on the desk in the stateroom are normal. The TV gets several ship channels and CNN,, Fox, ESPN and a couple of movie channels-use the remote and go channel up or down. The bathrobes the ship provides are warm enough. There was a good hair dryer. I never looked the minibar. The minisafe worked well. Unless you are being reimbursed by an employer, 75 cents a minute seems excessive for wi-fi. You should wait til you are ashore. This is also true for cell phone service. WHAT TO TAKE The clothing you need depends on you and the time of year. I found a lightweight windbreaker and/or a long sleeve shirt and a pair of chino slacks, one dress shirt, a pair of shorts and some polo shirts. People who chill easily might want a sweatshirt and a medium weight windbreaker. Ponchos are a must. Remember that onboard ship you will spend most of your time in heated or airconditioned spaces. There is a dress code. "Smart Casual" means a a shirt with a collar or a nice polo shirt and slacks or chinos for men. "Formal" means a jacket and shirt with a collar. Many men wear ties. Women can get by with a nice pair of slacks and a top. For most of the time and for all restaurants other than the main dining room, you can wear anything you want. In the Pinacle Room, smart casual is OK for lunch and formal is OK for dinner. FOOD Breakfast can be delivered to your cabin and is adequate. The food in the main dining room is generally very good. They do have misses and some things are better than others. Generally simpler is better. Remember this is mass feeding. If your travel agent can get you a table by the window in the Vista Dining Room, take it. If not, negotiate with the maitre de when you get onboard. Usually he will give you a reserved spot for three nights but that can be extended. The dining room is very good about helping people with allergies, both by recommending specific items and by making items omitting allergens. But you do need to let them know in advance. The very fancy Pinnacle Restaurant has an upcharge but it is worth it. Lunch at $10 is a better value than dinner at $25. The food is superb. There is an Italian restaurant but we never tried it. The buffet on the Lido deck is OK. It is not pretentious either in food or ambiance. This is a bar lovers paradise. You cannot move without finding one. Remember the era of continuous feeding is over. PUBLIC SPACES In general the public rooms are well furnished, well maintained and comfortable. There is a lovely library on the forward port side of the Observation Deck. It has a decent coffee bar nearby. You can borrow books or just relax. Right at the bow on the Observation Deck is the Crows Nest Bar. This has wonderful views and when we were onboard a nice singer. When we were going through Tracy Arm, we camped out there and took turns going for food and drink. We preferred this to going outside where it was cold. The Explorers Lounge is great if you want a quiet place with classical or light pops and comfortable chairs and good windows. The pools are like pools at any hotel. The fitness room had an adequate supply of machines but was always crowded. We never tried the spa. The screening room for movies fills up quickly, so if you want to see the movie be early. But note you can watch the same movie the next day on the TV in your cabin. SERVICE The service was attentive but not intrusive. Our dinner waiter was outstanding. Our cabin stewards kept the cabin immaculate without our being aware of their presence. Although you are charged $11.50 per night per passenger for tips, you should tip waiters and stewards who gave outstanding service with a cash gift at the end of the trip. Your bartender gets a 15% tip billed automatically with your drinks(including sodas, etc.) THE DESTINATIONS Most ports can be visited on foot and without a tour. But if you are mobility or strength limited, take the city bus tour. Our travel agent persuaded us to take an airplane tour of the glaciers out of Juneau. The five glacier tour was wonderful-a not to be missed experience. However, we were lucky because the weather was perfect. They fly in all sorts of weather. So, you may prefer to wait to book this until you are sure of conditions or even wait til you reach port and walk the 100 yards or so to the Wings Air office where you can book the same tour on the day you are in port. Unlike earlier cruises, on our trip the ship got right up to the Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm. The experience was fantastic. See above about how to view it. The ship invariably had good docking positions convenient to everything at all ports. In Juneau do not miss the Mt. Roberts tram. And be sure to watch the movie on the Tligit that is shown in the movie theater at the top. The view is spectacular. In Sitka do not miss the Sheldon-Jackson museum. This is a real gem filled with a wonderful collection of Alaskan native artifacts. If coffee is your thing, hit the Highliner Cafe. Ketchikan is mainly a place to pick up whatever souvenirs you didn't already buy. Creek Street is well worth seeing. Nearby is a municipal library and museum that has a nice collection of artifacts from the early days of the city. Remember that many of the trinkets are mass produced. But there are a large number of reasonably priced goods made by Alaskan natives. And their quality is somewhat higher than the mass produced stuff. Victoria was our only disappointment. As had happened on earlier sailings, the ship was about an hour late into port. Since there were only four hours to see things, this limited opportunity. In our case we booked the Bouchard Gardens tour although we knew most of it would be in darkness. However, coming an hour late, we were unable to see much in light and had insufficient time to tour the garden in the artificial light. We had been promised by both the Front Desk staff and the excursions desk staff that our time at Bouchard Gardens would be extended. It wasn't. And unlike earlier sailings, they neither cancelled the tour nor offered us the opportunity to cancel. I would urge people not to book this excursion. We had been to Victoria before, so the loss was less than it might have been. It is a city well worth seeing. A walk around the inner harbor and tea at the Empress Hotel is not to be missed, if possible. The souvenirs are of somewhat better quality than elsewhere. Disembarkation and transportation to the airport were swift and easy. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
This was our first cruise (wife); I was originally going to book on line, but I decided to go with an agent. I booked this tour in early February for a departure of 3 June for 7 days. I read many of the posts on cruise critic to give me ... Read More
This was our first cruise (wife); I was originally going to book on line, but I decided to go with an agent. I booked this tour in early February for a departure of 3 June for 7 days. I read many of the posts on cruise critic to give me an idea what to expect. We are about 50 miles from pier 91, so we drove up and parked in the provided parking lot for a sum of $177.00. This was a good deal when you consider many of the passengers had to fly in from around the country, and some stayed in hotels before the shipped sailed. I received my room assignment one week before departure. I did not get an upgrade or any offer to upgrade. So, we got our assigned room. On the day of departure, it was relative easy going through check in and security. We both carried passports. It took about 15-20 minutes for security and check in. We had to wait over an hour in this large room for our number to be called to get on the ship; we were in group nine. After bordering the ship, we went to our assigned room and put our carryon in the room. My wife luggage was already there. It was about 1330, so we went upstairs to the 9th deck Lido, and we ate in the CANALETTO RESTAURANT and the food was good. After lunch we went back to the room and began touring the ship on our own. I brought 4 cameras with me if you include my cell phone. I had a hand held camcorder, Nikon 9100, and my Nikon 5100 with telephoto lenses; all my cameras are capable of taking still and videos, photography is one of my hobbies. We were assigned to sit at a table of 8, I got that change to a table for two; I could not change my scheduled meal time of 1945, I would have preferred the 1730 time frame, I tried to get this change at the time of booking; I was told it was filled?????? There is a gym on deck 10, my wife loved going there. I preferred the daily and sometime more walks around deck 3. According to the posted sign, 3 times around is a mile; I got plenty of exercise, and with all the good food, I really need the exercise. The shows were ok - good; however, if you wanted to eat at our scheduled time of 1945, you missed many of the shows. Dinner was over around 2100. We ate most of our meal in the LIDO RESTAURANT. We did do formal night and some other days at our assigned table. The meals were always great at this restaurant located on deck at the rear of the ship called the UPPER VISTA DINING ROOM. We ate at open seating on deck 2 called the Lower VISTA DINING ROOM. Again, the food was always GREAT. They have a grill at pool side on deck 9; hamburgers, fries, tacos; it was good. Sunday thru Tuesday we were at sea, Tuesday afternoon we began Cruising Tracy Arm; I had my camera the N5100, and I took some really great pictures. We could not go very far into the narrow passage due to floating ice, but the scenery was beautiful. On Wednesday morning we sailed into Juneau. I was up and walking around deck three with my hand held camcorder taking pictures. We docked and we chose to visit Mendenhall Glacier. It cost my wife and me $8.00 for each of us to go and come back for $32.00, the park is beautiful I took my N9100 and took some really great pictures. We walked around town and shopped. On Thursday am we were getting ready to dock in Sitka. As usual I got my hand camcorder and headed to deck 3 for walking and pictures taking. As I was approaching the back of the boat, I noticed the water and saw a whale water spout. I had spotted my first whale. I wish at this point I had brought along my N5100. It is kind of difficulty taking picture of moving, and diving whales looking through a monitor. I saw a total of 7 whales before I could go and get my other camera. We were anchored, and they began to use the life boats to shuttle us to shore. It caused the whales to move much further out. In Sitka we walked to the raptor center (1.5 miles) and visited some stores before it began to rain. So, we headed back to the ship. On Friday, we visited Ketchikan, and as we sailed into the city I took the opportunity to take some pictures using my camcorder. We docked, and we only shopped. We had to be back on the ship at 1230. Late Saturday around 1900, we docked in Victoria. The city provided free bus service to downtown. We had been to Victoria before, so, we just visited a few shops and headed back to the ship. It was rather windy that day. On Sunday at around 0600, we rolled into Seattle, Disembarking was easy since days prior we had elected to use the expedite option. We kept our luggage and we were probably among the first 50 cruisers to depart the ship. As a first time cruiser, we both enjoyed this adventure; our next cruise will be a warm weather (Caribbean). We did over pack. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2012
After reading so many negative reviews on this ship, we almost didn't book it, but at the last minute decided to give it a shot. We flew into Seattle the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn across from the airport. The next ... Read More
After reading so many negative reviews on this ship, we almost didn't book it, but at the last minute decided to give it a shot. We flew into Seattle the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn across from the airport. The next morning we paid a towncar service to take us to Pier 91. Once there, we were met by a fast and efficient (and friendly) staff that got us thru the check-in process and onboard and up to our room, where our luggage was waiting. Our room was very nice; king-sized bed, table, chair, loveseat, desk, tv,etc., and clean, as was the bathroom. We threw our carryon luggage down and went upstairs to the Lido Restaurant. No lines, and no waiting on a table. We had tons of different foods to choose from and made pigs of ourselves. (after all, isn't that what cruises are all about?) :) We enjoyed the Lido so much, that we ate most of our meals there. We did make reservations for the Vista dining room twice and enjoyed that as well. The Lido served much of the same foods that the dining room did, plus more. It was easy to keep going back and get more of what you really loved or try something else('til you were stuffed to the gill!) We also ordered room service breakfast every morning but one. They made this a VERY easy process-they put a menu card in your mailbox (outside of your door) and you just check off what you want and hang it on your doorknob. The next morning, at your picked out time frame, there it is! I think this was my favorite part of the cruise!!:) Our breakfasts were always on time and always hot. We had a great time touring the ship and ducking into the lounges to see what was going on and maybe staying and participating or not. The shows were very entertaining (Joel Mason was SOOOOOOO FUNNY!!!!), as was our Cruise Director. Between the both of them, we did alot of laughing! We enjoyed our days at port. At Juneau, we went to the Mendenhall Glacier, and did some shopping. At Sitka, we went out on our own to the totem pole forest and the raptor center. The forest was absolutely beautiful and the raptor center was very interesting and well worth the walk. At Ketchican, we stayed around the port area browsing and sightseeing. And at Victoria, it was cold and windy, so we did some shopping and went back to the ship. During our time on the ship we also spotted many whales, eagles, and one bear. That was very exciting! We also went to the casino a few times, and won some money! The Crow's Nest was one of our favorite spots to sit and have a drink, there seemed to be someone playing a guitar and singing relaxing songs every time we went. And the view from the Crows Nest was AWESOME! So, to all you naysayers out there, we are SOOO glad that we didn't turn down this cruise because of the negative remarks a few of you had. This was the trip of a lifetime for us and we definitely would recommend it to any and everyone! We hope to someday go again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
Ok so this was my first cruise in recent history. I was looking forward to visiting Alaska but my experience on the Oosterdam really left a lot to be desired. First of all the food. I ate in the buffett mostly but the two times I ate in ... Read More
Ok so this was my first cruise in recent history. I was looking forward to visiting Alaska but my experience on the Oosterdam really left a lot to be desired. First of all the food. I ate in the buffett mostly but the two times I ate in the restaraunt, the food was basically all the same as the buffett. By day three I was bored with the menu. Each day it was salmon, chicken pork and very rare beef. The salad bar one day had two types of lettuce. On day one there was sliced cucumbers. On day two there were tomatoes. On day three there was celery. The sauce changed daily but the basic items were always the same. Eating in the restaraunt wasn't a whole lot better as both nites the steak came totally rare when asking for it medium. Got to the point that I ordered it well done in hopes it might not be too bloody for me. I just found that the dining was a big downfall. Even though I know HAL has tried very hard to change the image from their older more sedate clientele I felt this cruise represented a way older crowd than I anticipated. The late shows were sparsely attended. I realize it was the first cruise of the season and that presented some issues. First the day to Tracy Arm we didn't go very far and never saw the glacier that was supposed to 'like Glacier Bay'. Ports of call in Sitka, Juneau and Ketchikan were all good however Ketchikan was only from 8 am till 12:30 and last port in Victoria we didn't arrive till 8 pm or so. The emphasis on shopping and visiting jewlery stores was a real turn off. Instead of handing us a port map and showing where the attractions are their 'shopping ambassador' met you and gave you a map of the jewlery stores. That I felt was a total turnoff. I did enjoy the staff but I think I'd like to experience a new ship with more dining choices. I know some people just love cruises but I met several on this cruise that were less than impressed. I know it wasn't the norm but this was a dissapointment for me. Read Less
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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